A Missouri health system will no longer provide emergency contraception for fear that patients and staff could be prosecuted under the state’s tough new abortion ban.
Saint Luke’s Health System — which operates more than a dozen medical campuses in the Kansas City area — announced the decision Tuesday, according to local reports.
Laurel Gifford, spokesperson for Saint Luke, told the Kansas City Star: “To ensure that we comply with all state and federal laws – and until the law in this area is better defined – Saint Luke will not provide no emergency contraception at our Missouri-based locations.”
Missouri was the first state to make abortion illegal after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade, who legalized abortion nationwide.
“In response to today’s SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade, I signed a proclamation activating the ‘Unborn Child’s Right to Life Act,’ ending elective abortions in the State,” Governor Mike Parson wrote on Twitter Last week.
Missouri was one of 13 states that had so-called “trigger laws” in place to immediately ban abortions once Roe was overturned.
“First, the Missouri law is ambiguous but can be interpreted as criminalizing emergency contraception,” Gifford told the Kansas City Star. “As a system that cares deeply about its team, we simply cannot put our clinicians in a position that could result in criminal charges.”
In a statement to local station KSHB, a spokesperson for Saint Luke said that because the health care system also operates in Kansas, emergency contraception can be provided at these facilities “safely, legally and without exposing our clinicians at legal risk”.
The statement continued: “It may not always be the most convenient option for our patients, but for now it is the best solution available.”
Kansas voters will decide in a referendum in August whether abortions should be protected by the state constitution, local station KWCH reported.
Spokespersons for Saint Luke’s did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Experts previously told Insider reporter Andrea Michelson that access to contraception – which is already restricted in some states – was in jeopardy ahead of last week’s Supreme Court ruling. And some lawmakers are signaling that contraception could be the next focal point of a new health care battleground.